Rhode Island

Capital: Providence

State abbreviation/Postal code: R.I./RI

Governor: Lincoln Chafee, I (to Jan. 2015)

Lieut. Governor: Elizabeth H. Roberts, D (to Jan. 2015)

Senators: Jack Reed, D (to Jan. 2015); Sheldon Whitehouse, D (to Jan. 2019)

U.S. Representatives: 2

Historical biographies of Congressional members

Secy. of State: A. Ralph Mollis, D (to Jan. 2015)

Atty. General: Peter Kilmartin, D (to Jan. 2015)

General Treasurer: Gina Raimondo, D (to Jan. 2015)

Entered Union (rank): May 29, 1790 (13)

Present constitution adopted: 1843

Motto: Hope

State symbols:

flowerviolet (unofficial) (1968)
treered maple (official) (1964)
birdRhode Island red hen (official) (1954)
shellquahog (official)
mineralbowenite (1966)
stonecumberlandite (1966)
colorsblue, white, and gold (in state flag)
song“Rhode Island, It's for Me” (1996)

Official name: The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations

Nickname: The Ocean State

Origin of name: From the Greek Island of Rhodes

Largest cities (2010 est.): Providence, 178,042; Warwick, 82,672; Cranston, 80,387; Pawtucket, 71,148; East Providence, 47,037; Woonsocket, 41,186; Newport, 24,672; Central Falls, 19,376

Land area: 1,045 sq mi. (2,706 sq km)

Geographic center: In Kent Co., 1 mi. SSW of Crompton

Number of counties: 5

Largest county by population and area: Providence, 626,667 (2010); Providence, 413 sq mi.

State parks: 14

Residents: Rhode Islander

2011 resident population est.: 1,051,302

2010 resident census population (rank): 1,052,567 (43). Male: 508,400 (48.3%); Female: 544,167 (51.7%). White: 856,869 (81.4%); Black: 60,189 (5.7%); American Indian: 6,058 (0.6%); Asian: 30,457 (2.9%); Other race: 63,653 (6.0%); Two or more races: 34,787 (3.3%); Hispanic/Latino: 130,655 (12.4%). 2010 population 18 and over: 78.7%; 65 and over: 14.4%; median age: 39.4.

See additional census data

Area codes

Tourism office

From its beginnings, Rhode Island has been distinguished by its support for freedom of conscience and action: Clergyman Roger Williams founded the present state capital, Providence, after being exiled by the Massachusetts Bay Colony Puritans in 1636. Williams was followed by other religious exiles who founded Pocasset, now Portsmouth, in 1638 and Newport in 1639.

Rhode Island's rebellious, authority-defying nature was further demonstrated by the burnings of the British revenue cutters Liberty and Gaspee prior to the Revolution; by its early declaration of independence from Great Britain in May 1776; by its refusal to participate actively in the War of 1812; and by Dorr's Rebellion of 1842, which protested property requirements for voting.

Rhode Island, smallest of the 50 states, is densely populated and highly industrialized. It is a major center for jewelry manufacturing. Electronics, metal, plastic products, and boat and ship construction are other important industries. Non-manufacturing employment includes research in health, medicine, and the ocean environment. Providence is a wholesale distribution center for New England.

Fishing ports are at Galilee and Newport. Rural areas of the state support small-scale farming, including grapes for local wineries, turf grass, and nursery stock. Tourism generates over a billion dollars a year in revenue.

Newport became famous as the summer capital of high society in the mid-19th century. Touro Synagogue (1763) is the oldest in the U.S. Other points of interest include the Roger Williams National Memorial in Providence, Samuel Slater's Mill in Pawtucket, the General Nathanael Greene Homestead in Coventry, and Block Island.

In January 2013, the Rhode Island House of Representatives passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage. The vote to pass the bill was 51 to 19. The State Senate would consider the bill in the spring of 2013. As of early 2013, Rhode Island was the only state in New England where same-sex marriage had not been legalized.

See more on Rhode Island:
Encyclopedia: Rhode Island
Encyclopedia: Geography
Encyclopedia: Economy
Encyclopedia: Government
Encyclopedia: History
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Information Please® Database, © 2013 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.

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